pennsicdance: Musicians and Venues and GOOP, Oh My!

Steven Bush sbbush at
Thu Sep 1 16:04:14 PDT 2005

Greetings from Etienne.

Unfortunately I was not able to attend Pennsic this year, but I have 
been following these discussions with great interest.

In thinking about the most divisive situation, Grossly Out Of Period 
dances, I came up with (what I think is) a good compromise.  Now 
personally, I would be happy if there was no GOOP done at 
Pennsic.  Yes, I can almost hear the shock and surprise as you all 
read this. ;-)  However, I do not think that an outright ban would be 
a good idea.  It will just piss some people off.  Not only will they 
go away with a poor opinion of the dance community, but they will 
share it with their friends.

My suggestion is that we institute a rule that no GOOP may be taught 
(including quick run-throughs) in the Barn or Tent.  This should 
appease the people who insist on doing those dances, but we will not 
be facilitating the spread of them to new people.  It should also 
help with the goal of eventually killing them off.  Of course, if 
people decide to go outside to teach GOOP to other people, we cannot 
stop them.  However, dancing should not be delayed while this happens.

Whoever is running dance in the Barn will have make sure that the 
GOOP dances get spread out, so that no one has to sit out for too 
long.  But that should be the case for all dances in the Barn.  It 
would be just as bad to have several 16th C. Italian dances done in a 
row (says the 16th C Italian dance fanatic.)

As for the venues, I think that we should keep both of them and there 
are a number of reasons for this.

1) I like the specialized parties, but not everyone does.  There 
should be a venue for those people who don't.  OTOH, I don't feel 
that there should be a focused party every night, especially on 
Wednesday and Thursday of War Week, when we cannot get into the Barn 
until after (a usually long) court.

2) Two venues allows us to have one where very little teaching gets 
done (except for quick run-throughs) and one where more teaching is 
possible (except for the aforementioned GOOP.)  However even in the 
Barn, teaching should be kept to a minimum.  Any dance that would 
take more than 10 minutes? to teach should probably not be done.  We 
tend to lose a lot of people if they have to wait up to half an hour 
for a dance to be taught.  The possible exception to this could be 
after say 2AM, sort of like the late night (early morning) classes 
that Gwommy used to lead.

3) I don't think that there is enough room in the Tent for everyone 
who wants to dance to do so, even on the non Pennsic Ball nights.  Of 
course we are somewhat limited on court nights, but I certainly don't 
want to give up the comfort of the nice dance floor on every other night.

My last points are about musicians.  I can see why someone who is 
running a party may want to work with a group that has had a chance 
to practice the music together ahead of time.

A) A number of dances done at the parties are not in the Pile.  So 
unless the outside musician is an excellent sight reader or the party 
organizer personally distributes this music to the community at 
large, there will be problems with the musicians playing well 
together.  I do not feel that this extra music, that may only be used 
once, should be added to the Pile.  Despite an effort to cull out 
some of the rarely done pieces this year, the Pile is still enormous.

B) The party organizer may want a chance to go through the music with 
the musicians ahead of time.  I have run many dances, and even with 
well rehearsed groups I have run into problems with repeat structures 
and tempi.  It is nice when you have a chance to work these things 
out in advance.

C) A group may have a very specific mix of instruments and the 
addition of other musicians could change the sound the ensemble.

Now this ties in with my discussion of venues.  It is my recollection 
(though perhaps my old brain has just become too addled) that there 
are enough musicians that we could field an adequate number for both 
the Tent and the Barn.  If this is true, there is no reason why the 
musicians who are not able to play in the Tent shouldn't go play in 
the Barn.  In fact (IMNSHO), if we do have enough musicians for two 
venues, we should try to divide them up so that the people dancing in 
the Barn do not have to rely so much on recorded music.

Now I am sure that there will be some people who disagree with 
me.  But I'm not worried, I am wearing my asbestos doublet and hose. ;-)

Yay dancing!

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